A study published in Annals of Oncology reported that a blood test can successfully detect more than 50 types of cancer. Researchers have declared that this blood test is accurate enough to be a multi-cancer pre-screening test for individuals who are at high risk, which includes patients that are over 50 without any symptoms. 1
GRAIL, Inc., the company developing and funding the research, mentions that the test can locate where the cancer is located within the body, which will help doctors determine effective diagnostic tests. Many of the cancers that the test is capable of detecting current do not have screening tests available, like pancreatic, liver, and esophageal cancers. GRAIL Inc. has made the detection test available in the United States by prescription with results ready in ten business days or less. 2
This blood detection test involves a sample of blood and then analyzing the sample for cell-free DNA, or cfDNA, which tumors shed into the blood. Then, genomic sequencing is utilized to detect any chemical changes to the DNA that controls the gene expression. After this, a classifier developed with artificial intelligence uses the results to observe and detect any abnormalities within the cfDNA; these abnormalities demonstrate that cancer is present. This machine classifier can also predict where the cancer is within the body. 1
In a clinical study, researchers performed the blood test on over 2,800 individuals who had cancer, and over 1,250 who did not have cancer. The test detected cancer signals from over 50 types of cancers and found that across all the stages of cancer, it correctly identified when the cancer was present about 51% of the time. The test’s true negative rate was 99.5%, which means that the test wrongly detected cancer in only .5% of cases. In addition, the detection test correctly identified the tissue where the cancer was located in about 88% of cases.
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1Tang, W. H. W., Yimer, H., Tummala, M., Shao, S., Chung, G., Clement, J., … & Roberts10, L. (2021). Performance of a Targeted Methylation‑Based Multi‑Cancer Early Detection Test by Race/Ethnicity.
2Blood test for early detection of cancer: final study results support screening use. (2021). EurekAlert! https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-06/esfm-btf062321.php